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Israel threatens strikes in Lebanon, Gaza

TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz Tuesday threatened to use force to stop a Hezbollah buildup in Lebanon and arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

Israel has been complaining that arms are reaching Hezbollah from Syria violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

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The Lebanese army that patrol the Israeli border and United Nations peacekeepers have foiled several smuggling attempts but the Israelis maintain that is not enough.

Peretz said Israel monitors the arms smuggling across the Syrian-Lebanese border and, "We have no intention of letting this continue."

During last summer's war Israel destroyed Hezbollah infrastructure near the border and Peretz said that any attempt to dig trenches or lay charges in a way that wound endanger the Israeli soldiers would lead to Israeli action.

"The task is to prevent Hezbollah from rearming itself. It is a major task and we shall carry it out," Peretz said, adding that "if Resolution 1701 is not implemented ...arms smuggling (continues) and our (two) kidnapped soldiers are not returned, we shall do what we have to do on our own... We shall ... use every means to defend the State of Israel."

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Peretz was similarly hard-lined on arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. The Egyptians have caught several shipments but Israel was concerned not only about the amount of weapons that reach Palestinian militants but also with the type of arms. It is concerned that more advanced arms could threaten its armored vehicles and aircraft.

Asked whether a "military solution is possible" in Gaza Peretz said: "If we shall find diplomatic solutions, we'll prefer them but where it will transpire that the diplomatic solutions (are not satisfactory)...and that we shall require a military operation, we shall do so without hesitation.

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